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Christian writers have sometimes spoken of the husband’s headship with a complacency to make the blood run cold. We must go back to our Bibles. The husband is the head of the wife just in so far as he is to her what Christ is to the Church. He is to love her as Christ loved the Church – read on – and gave His life for it (Ephesians 5:25). This headship, then, is most fully embodied not in the husband we should all wish to be, but in him whose marriage is most like a crucifixion; whose wife receives most and gives least, is most unworthy of him, is – in her mere nature – least lovable.

CSLewisC.S. Lewis
The Four Loves (1960)

In Genesis 2 God lays forth a clear design of the wife’s role. Here is the seed-plot of her basic five-fold purpose that can be seen in this text:


It is not good that the man should be alone (:18).


I will make him a help meet for him (:18).


I will make him a help meet for him (:18).


Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife (:24).


… They shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed (:24-25).

These five areas constitute the essence of the husband/wife relationship. The Creator of this first union makes it clear to us what the issues are in a man and woman being husband and wife. In this passage we can identify the divine design of how a wife may truly help her husband.

In future installments we will look at each of these five areas in more detail.

C2Pilkington-4Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
(Excerpted from his upcoming book, Husband Helping)

The author already has already written extensively on the structure of the home and the roles of husbands and wives in Heaven’s Embassy and The Great Omission. He also has a detailed video series entitles Male & Female. Lord willing, he plans to publish additional books on related subjects this year:

Male and Female
Wife Loving: The Husband’s Paramount Privilege
Husband Helping
The Family in Ruins
The Dictionary of Biblical Sexuality
When the Vow Breaks: God Is a Divorcee Too! (Biblical Words of Comfort, Encouragement, and Direction for the Divorced)

The husband is head of the wife even as Christ is Head of the ecclesia (Ephesians 5:23, CV).

Someone is responsible for the wife and the family. There is a place where the buck stops. God has made the husband that responsible agent (I Corinthians 11:3). It can clearly be seen in Genesis 3 that the husband is the responsible agent. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, for whom did God come looking? He came looking for Adam!

Manhood is defined by God, not by society. Being a real man has nothing to do with body-building or “bossing women around.” It has to do with responsibility. The course of the world will lead men to become effeminate in the guise of masculinity by forsaking the seriousness of their divine responsibilities. Such emasculated men will tirelessly point in all directions in an attempt to pass off the responsibility of their marriages and homes. A godly man will man-up to his God-given responsibility as a husband. An unrighteous man will neglect or despise them. There is no end to which he will go at self-justification (“That woman You gave me, she …” Genesis 3:12). Of course, the most “honorable” way of abdication is by justifying irresponsibility by self-serving re-interpretation of Scripture.

Anything that goes wrong in my marriage or home, I own – all of it. It’s 100% on me. This does not mean that there is no other accountability in my home, but there is no other responsibility. This is what headship is all about. A lot of marriages fail because husbands are selfish, immature and irresponsible. Women are divinely designed to be led and loved in marriage. Husbands are the initiators, wives are the responders. This is God’s plan.

C2Pilkington-4Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
(Excerpted from his upcoming book, Wife Loving)

Under the Law of Moses we can see an astounding illustration of the important place that the wife has in the life of her husband.

When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken (Deuteronomy 24:5).

This emphasis, even under the Mosaic Law, is a remarkable one: a man with a new wife was to take a year off from his duties to cheer her up. “Cheer up” is translated “give joy to” in the Dabhar version and “gladden” by Darby.

Although society has made such a provision nearly impossible to implement, this nonetheless stresses the significant nature of the husband/wife relationship and the essential need and importance of husbands’ personal ministry to their wives.

C2Pilkington-4Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
(Excerpted from his upcoming book, Wife Loving)

The larger problem in marriage is not women who do not know how to be women and wives, as large of a problem as this may be in our society. The trouble is with men who do not know how to be men and husbands. Some men want to reap all of the benefits of married life without the responsibilities of being a husband, acting as if they were “single.”

As with the husband’s role in love, his role in headship has for its corresponding example Christ.

The husband is head of the wife even as Christ is Head of the ecclesia (Ephesians 5:23, CV).

Of every man the head is the Christ, and the head of a woman is the husband, and the head of Christ is God (I Corinthians 11:3, YLT).

For husbands, learning the role of Christ to our wives is one of the richest experiences of life.

C2Pilkington-4Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
(Excerpted from his upcoming book, Wife Loving)

Because of the restructuring of the Western, nuclear family, men have been led to devote much of their newly acquired “free” time in pursuits of unprecedented personal interest that, even a century ago, were virtually unknown. As a result, the role of the “family man” has, in many ways, become a part-time venture. Our culture encourages the detached, independent man in the endless pleasure-pursuits of his own personal interests and hobbies, often to the neglect and detriment of his role as husband, father and patriarch.

The most important thing that a husband can give his wife and family is himself: his time and attention. A man’s wife should be his primary interest, followed by his children. They are his greatest investments in life. For the husband, regardless of whatever he and his family must do to “make a living,” his wife should be his “career.” This is the essence of a husband’s ministry. A wife should never have to compete for her husband’s interest and attention. When she is properly valued and cared for she can thrive, knowing that she is of the utmost importance to him. and as a result he himself can be released to abundant dimensions, for “he who loves his wife loves himself” (Ephesians 5:28).

So preeminent is this responsibility that Paul asks about a man who is negligent of his household,

How will he care for the ecclesia of God? (I Timothy 3:5).

C2Pilkington-4Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
(Excerpted from his upcoming book, Wife Loving)

Sometimes when presenting the responsibilities of a husband, some men will counter,

“Well, that’s all well and good for those blessed with godly wives. But, you don’t know how difficult my wife is.”

Let’s say for a moment that a husband has a wife that has serious brokenness: emotional, physical, mental, spiritual. Does this seeming deficiency in her somehow negate the husband’s own responsibilities? Should she be neglected because of her brokenness? Should she be abandoned because of her problems and struggles? Or, should her life be made so much more miserable by her husband that she will be forced to leave; or, her life made so much more unhappy and depressed that she insists that he leave?

Do not even extremely broken women still deserve to be loved and cherished? Who better than a godly, righteous man to do so? Is it not an honor and a privilege to express to her the unending, unwavering love, grace, patience (longsuffering), gentleness and kindness of Christ?

Love never fails (I Corinthians 13:8).

C2Pilkington-4Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
(Excerpted from his upcoming book, Wife Loving)

Some husbands view the sacrificial love and care of their wives, to which they have been called, as some grievous burden weighing heavily on their backs; others view it as a blessed honor and divine privilege to be treasured in their hearts. For the latter, it not only has rich reward in this life, but the expectation of a lasting value in the resurrection.

Divine love is “gladly spent” for its object, regardless of the response.

I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved (II Corinthians 12:15).

Yet with the greatest relish shall I spend and be bankrupted for the sake of your souls, even if loving you more exceedingly diminishes your love for me (CV).

Godly husbands ardently agree with Paul. They count it their highest privilege to bring the love of Christ to their wives.

C2Pilkington-4Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
(Excerpted from his upcoming book, Wife Loving)

Imagine with me, if you will, that we are leafing through a couple’s photo album. Early in the collection we see pictures of them while they are dating, during the period of his wooing. What a wonderful collection of pictures of the two of them with such happy faces. The next series of photographs are of their wedding and honeymoon. They vividly express images of such a happy couple. The smiles on their faces tell their amazing story of love and joy.

Now we page to the back of the album. Here we see quite a different scene. There is a long conference table with the couple sitting across from each other beside their respective attorneys. There are reflections of disgust, hatred and abhorrence written all over their faces.

The story of their marriage album is such a common occurrence in our “advanced” day. If fact, we are told that over half of all marriages – most of which began with bliss – end in gut-wrenching sadness. Did you ever ask yourself how the marriage albums go from delight to grief, from love to disgust?

Most marriages of our day are entered voluntarily. Many are the product of a woman being tenderly, lovingly and thoughtfully wooed and won. She is the focus of his attentive care. The woman standing beside the vowing groom is delighted to be there. So, how does the average couple get from the most wonderful day of their lives (their wedding day) to the hardest day of the lives (the divorce court)? More pointedly, since this is a series directed toward husbands, how does a woman go from being thrilled with the love of her life to despising the man on whom she is now having papers served?

One thing we know: this does not happen overnight. Rarely is a marriage over the day after the wedding, or a week after the honeymoon. It is usually a prolonged, slow death of love. Over the years it is a micro-demise, the minutest of day-by-day decline, which responsibility lies squarely at the feet of the husband. After all, in most husband-wife relationships, it is the husband who was the pursuer, the initiator, the wooer, the suitor, the courter, and often it his neglected duties as husband that lead to this slow death. He had made her believe that she was special and important to him, but over time, she was left to feel neglected, unimportant, valueless, meaningless, and unloved. Be assured that the husband’s love needs to be as steadfast, proactive and aggressive as when he was the fiancé, if not more so.

How many men, having won the attention, affection and hand of the woman of their pursuit, have, day-by-day, relaxed their action-of-love, consciously or unconsciously assuming that, since they had already won their prize, their labor-of-love was essentially over, or at least diminished?

Now granted, in the early stages of male/female relationships, the Creator has afforded a certain excitement and euphoria – nearly pharmaceutical in nature. This very fact means that the man’s greatest work actually lies ahead of the wedding day. What relied in part so easily on feeling, emotion, excitement, sensation and passion must of necessity be more-and-more demonstrated by the deliberate, thoughtful, concrete choices of active love.

God is the Initiator and Sustainer of love toward us (“we love Him because He first loved us,” I John 4:19), and we husbands have the honored privilege of learning the lesson of a lifetime, being His channel of divine love to our wives, “even as also Christ loved the ecclesia” (Ephesians 5:25).

C2Pilkington-4Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
(Excerpted from his upcoming book, Wife Loving)

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An Opportunity to Walk Worthily of the Evangel

Paul is telling us in 1 Corinthians 11 that the husband’s submission to Christ’s headship is to arise from his realization of Christ’s obedience to God’s headship. [A]s he grows in appreciation of Christ’s obedience to God, the believing husband comes to understand what his own headship over his wife signifies. As Christ gave of Himself for the good of the husband, so the believing husband gives of himself for the good of the wife. Headship, according as Paul presents it, is not an invitation to self-glorification and indulgence but an opportunity to walk worthily of the evangel of Christ (cf. Philippians 1:27).

Dean HoughDean Hough
“The Headship of Christ”
Unsearchable Riches, Volume 82
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May 2023
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